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EAST AFRICA WOMEN'S LEAGUE
Although there is not much recorded history on the Muthaiga Branch, there is history of the area and one particular member of EAWL, Mrs. Ewart Grogan.
Muthaiga is now a suburb in the Nairobi area. The area was named agfter the tree from the bark of which the Maasai used to distil poison for their arrows, and was originally an estate of some 5,000 acres which Colonel Ainsworth, then commissioner for Nairobi, persuaded Mr. G. Sandbach Baker to acquire from the Government in 1901.
When Colonel Grogan applied to Gertrude's father for permission to marry her, before World War I, he was told to come back when he had done something to show he was worthy of her. What he did was to walk from the Cape to Cairo, and so earn his bride! Mrs. Grogan had been an officer of the League since 1937. She became President in 1942, but died tragically after six months in office.
Lady (then Mrs. F. O'B.) Wilson stepped in in 1943 to take up the work until 1945. During her Presidency, a memorandum for post-war reconstruction was put up to Government.
The Post-war era was a time for building. Hospitals and schools were put up, and the EAWL found itself more than ever involved in supporting these projects.
The Sandbach Bakers were early pioneers of settlement in British East Africa and held the first lease of land ever to be granted in the Kenya highlands. They called their new home “Homestead Farm”, and it was there that Mrs. Sandbach Baker produced the first dairy butter to be made in Kenya. Before coming to Kenya, Mr. Sandbach Baker was in the dairy industry in England and within a short time after taking up his land at Muthaiga, his farm became a show place and known for the high-quality butter, cheese and milk produced there for the local market.
As early as 1904 the Sandbach Bakers won seven prizes for dairy produce at the Nairobi Agricultural Show and a similar number at Mombasa the same year. Today Gertrude’s Garden Children’s Hospital stands on the site of the Sandbach Bakers’ house and is thetheme of the Muthaiga Panel. The Panel shows the hospital, and suroruded by the children he loves, Ewart Grogan, Kenya’s Grand Old Man and elder statesman, who is as famous today for his part in building the Colony as for his epic journey from the Cape to Cairo.
GERTRUDE’S GARDEN CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL:
The proposal for a memorial to Mrs. Grogan was put forward in 1945, when money was first collected towards it. Colonel Ewart Grogan donated his house and grounds in Muthaiga. His first idea was that it should be used as an orphanage for children whose parents had been killed in the War, but happily there was no demand for this, so the decision that Gertrude's Garden should be a Children’s Hospital was made. Funds were raised by many other organizations, but the League's contribution was to pay for equipping the hospital, and Shs. 200,00/- was raised in 1946, every branch contributing generously. Gertrude's Garden was opened in 1948, Later a further Shs. 240,000/- was raised for extensions. The EAWL has always had a Trustee on the Board and a representative on the management committee, and continues to support the hospital in every way. Lady Wilson was the League Trustee until her death in 1975.